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    Starting the Day Off Right
    Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
    Mornings can be hectic and hurried. And when your day gets off to a rough start, everything that follows can seem more challenging. To ensure that your family has stress-free and productive mornings, here are 9 tips to get your troop out the door on time.

    1. Prepare the night before. Make lunches and pack backpacks the night before so your necessities are all set when you get ready to walk out the door.

    2. Get your kids to bed on time. Sleep is essential for growing bodies and developing brains. Ideally, school age children should sleep at least 10 hours a night. So if waking your kids up in the morning is a struggle, try giving them an earlier bed time.

    3. Wake up earlier. Parents, this one is for you. Waking up earlier -- before your kids wake up -- and getting yourself ready first can help you avoid feeling so rushed.

    4. Wake up well. Start the day off with hugs, smiles, "Good mornings", silly songs, and other fun routines.

    5. Get dressed first. It works best for kids to get up and get dressed before eating or doing anything else. Prepare two outfit choices the night before.
    Exception: Young toddlers -- who may still wear more of their breakfast than they eat -- may need to eat before dressing.

    6. Everyone brushes their teeth. If getting your children to brush their teeth is a struggle, have everyone in the family brush together. When parents brush with their kids, they can see the importance of good oral hygiene. And it makes the task more fun.

    7. Reward them for being ready early. If your kids are ready ahead of schedule, reward them with special playtime, by reading a book, or by walking around the block. One mistake that parents can make is turning on the TV right when the family wakes up. But if the television must be part of your morning routine, use it as a reward once kids are all ready and waiting to go to school.

    8. Stay calm. Calm parents = calm children. Stressed parents = stressed children. Enough said.

    9. Praise your children every step of the way. For younger children who struggle in the morning, try putting stickers or stamps on their hands with each completed step. Let them show their teachers and everyone at school! Make a big deal out of their successes. After a few weeks no stickers or stamps are usually needed, since the routine will have become a normal part of your child's busy day.

    How do you jump start your family in the morning? Any tricks to add to this list?

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